When considering a pediatric dentist in the United States, you should keep the following questions in mind:
Is the dentist a member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry?
Does the pediatric dentist keep current through continuing education classes and/or attendance at conferences, seminars, etc.?
Does the pediatric dentist’s professional/personal manner put you and your child at ease?
Is the staff friendly, knowledgeable and quick in addressing your child’s needs and your concerns?
Is the dental office child-centric? (Do they offer child-sized furniture and instruments, decorations, handouts, entertainment/distraction options for children of different ages, etc?)
What is the practice’s policy on parents staying with their children during treatment? (Some pediatric dental offices require parents to accompany their children in order to educate parents and help reassure nervous children. Other offices encourage children to return for treatment on their own in order for the pediatric dental team to focus exclusively on the child and begin building a sense of trust right away.) What policy makes you and your child most comfortable?
Does the practice accept your dental insurance?
Were you properly informed about your child’s tooth development and given prevention and at-home dental care education?
Were your questions and concerns (and those of your child) treated with respect and sensitivity and answered in an age-appropriate, reassuring manner?
For families with multiples: Is the dentist familiar with the oral health or needs for multiples? Is the dentist comfortable treating multiples? Tips or suggestions for oral care for families with multiples?
When looking for the right pediatric dentist, one of the best tools you have is your own pair of ears. Ask around, and especially talk to other parents in the area to find out who they go to and who they trust. Credentials are also highly important, but there’s no real substitute for firsthand, anecdotal evidence. Another good consideration is the size of the practice, and the number of patients the dentist is currently working with. While a busy office is a good sign, you want to make sure that your pediatric dentist will be available for your child and that making appointments won’t be a huge hassle. Remember also that this is a person that you’ll be seeing often, and that the person you choose as your child’s pediatric dentist should be someone that you get along with as well.
A great way to find the right pediatric dentist is to treat it like you’re hiring an employee. Don’t be afraid to conduct some interviews, where you can sit down and see what your potential choice is like before committing your child to an appointment. Though references are very helpful, it’s certainly a good idea to personally judge the way a pediatric dentist comes across. After all, your own parental instincts are important to pay attention to when entrusting the care of your child’s teeth to a pediatric dentist. This is someone who’s going to be spending a lot of time with your child, and you want to make sure that he or she is trustworthy.
When choosing the right pediatric dentist it’s important to be thorough. Ideally, the person that you choose will be able to take care of your child for years to come, and making the right decision the first time will save a lot of wasted time and money. One of the great things about having a dedicated pediatric dentist working with your child as he or she grows is that the dentist will be personally familiar with your child’s dental history, and will be more likely to notice things earlier, like the potential need for braces or a retainer.